ABC Cardiff

67 Queen Street,
Cardiff, CF10 4AT

Unfavorite 4 people favorited this theater

Showing 1 - 25 of 27 comments

mikeford99 on January 4, 2015 at 6:29 pm

Hi Allanevans, I was wondering if you have read my last email..I would love to see the old image of that wonderful place.

mikeford99 on October 29, 2012 at 12:00 am

Hi all, Allanevans mentions that he has photo’s of the ABC before it was converted. I was a regular at the ABC minors during the 60’s and I absolutely loved that place. If anyone has photo’s or movies of the interior I would love to see them. Email me at .au I now have my own private cinema…..16mm 8mm and digital….so the passion for film continues. Also, any photo’s of other cinema’s in Cardiff such as park lane or Odeon or Capitol would be appreciated.

allanevans on April 28, 2011 at 6:13 am

Thank you mickrick for that infomation especally about the skating picture, thats fascinating!id love to find some pictures of the olympia before the toddAO conversion but as you say the only place thay are likely to be is in the archives somewhere,i have pictures of the auditorium just before the triple conversion only.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams on April 27, 2011 at 3:48 am

You are probably right with the roller skating and no, unfortunately I do not recall any photographs being taken atb the time, but if any exist I would think they would be in Associated British Cinemas' archives somewhere. I often regret not keeping a pictorial record of my time in the cinema industry but these lessons are not learned until too late. I can still remember after taking down the screen, moving out the old speakers (Perspecta Stereo) and there on the rear stage wall was this full colour painting, sadly covered up again within days by the neww deeply curved Todd AO size screen

geoffjc on April 27, 2011 at 1:34 am

Thanks to mickrick for the above comment. In the early 1900’s, roller skating was very popular and was offered in a number of halls , some later converted into cinemas.
Roller skating was advertised in the local paper at the Olympia for a while at the height of this craze, maybe the painting dates from this time?
Do any photographs exist of the picture, or of the proscenium before demolition?

Michael Williams
Michael Williams on April 26, 2011 at 6:40 am

I actually worked there so am rather familiar with the building and its environments.The arcade alongside the cinema was called Andrews Arcade, and into this arcade were Three emergency exits (incorporating, via a catwalk, the Box emergency exit) and at the Crockherbtown Lane end, the doors to the boiler house, which in my time housed a gas boiler with a plennum system clean air distributor above it.
When the Proscenium arch was dismantled ready for Todd AO, we found on the rear wall of the stage area, a guigantic painting of a female ice skater with the words To Skate is to be Beautiful alongside it, so sometime in the past perhaps ice skating took place here.

geoffjc on April 26, 2011 at 6:15 am

You can find additional details from the original architects' drawings for the Andrews Hall and the re-construction in 1935 as the Olympia,then largely unaltered until the late fifties, at the newly constructed Glamorgan Archive, near the City Stadium.
S Andrews built a row of buildings fronting Queen Street as mainly shops and offices, with the hall at the rear and with an arcade nearby serving as an exit, and leading to the lane which ran behind the Olympia, Odeon and Gaumont and emerged onto Park Place opposite the Park Hall.At the western end of the lane was the film distribution vault described by Editha Pearce.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams on April 26, 2011 at 3:12 am

Do You Know Allan, I never thought of the Tardis comparism, I like it. In fact the auditorium was virtually a seperate building from the buildins fronting Queen Street. The long rising foyer actually went through those buildings to the cinema proper at the rear. Yes the auditoriun was partially below ground level and in fact even lower than that was, enser the stage apron was a spring of water, which had its ownn sump pump to get rid of the water as it rose in its well.

allanevans on April 25, 2011 at 5:48 am

I always thought that the ABC Olympia was a bit of a tardis, in that with its small entrance in queen st. the large superb auditorium was unexpected.half of the actual auditorium was below ground leval of course.

Eric Evans
Eric Evans on March 27, 2011 at 1:11 pm

I used to be a projectionist in Pwllheli before my retirement, I remember in 1960 going on a coach trip to Cardiff, setting off after 10.00pm Saturday evening. I did not even have time to pop home after finishing work, It’s not the easiest of journeys down to South Wales even now, but much worse back then.
After travelling all night we were all very tired after walking around all day Sunday,there was no hotel involved on this crazy trip.the bus was not due to set back for home until quite late on Sunday. In the end we all landed up in the Olympia, mostly just for the rest. the first thing I noticed was the location of the box as described mickrick,the first i’d seen in that position. The film running was ‘Hercules Unchained’ starring Steve Reeves not that we cared much of what was on offer. Smashing cinema I visited it a couple of times after that, when more awake !
Here’s a photo from 1996.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams on October 29, 2010 at 8:20 am

Just a small add on about this beautiful cinema——It was in fact the perfect Todd AO cinema, Because the projection room was at the front of the Circle, the throw was extremely short (Ithink about 93 feet) with negligible rake. To allow for the immediate “spread” of the beam, very large portholes were installed making us projectionist very visible from the front stalls. They also chopped off the corner of the front circle to accommodate that spread. It all added up to a perfect Todd AO picture

Michael Williams
Michael Williams on August 28, 2010 at 7:35 am

As I sit here at this moment in time, with the Magic Film being shown on tele NOW!, I hear the strains of “OKLAHOMA ” filling the air and I am immediately taken back to the opening night in Cardiff. The strains of “Beautiful Morning” fill the theatre, the Tabs SWEEP open and the sharpest ever Todd AO image filled the sheet with colour. An experience I will treasure for ever

Michael Williams
Michael Williams on August 22, 2010 at 9:35 am

This a thankyou— to Edith Pearce with Her comments posted above. I was there during the time She describes and I well remember !A Summer Place", after all I was in love with Sandra Dee (weren’t we all?) This cinema holds a very special place in my heart, even now over fifty years later. (I can still sing “the ABC Minors” song!!

Mike Rogers
Mike Rogers on June 30, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I hope you guys haven’t replaced your great projectionists with high school kids like they have done almost everywhere in the States.Sad thing was the Union makes the movies,but has no say in having a trained Union person in the booth,never could figure it out.Mike Local 629.

lovefilms on May 1, 2010 at 8:15 am

Thanks for the above info.the time i was at the ABC olympia ther was a still slide projector in use to the left of the DP70s , used mainly for the saturday mornigs ABC minors shows.i wonder if that was still ther till the conversion.i remeber one sat. one of the rectifiers broke down and my self and deryck the chief projectionist had to work fast to get a standby rectifier connected for the normal afternoon show as we had to finish the morning show useing just one of the DP70s

Peter123 on April 30, 2010 at 4:48 pm

Yes indeed the projection equipment in the late 60s and early 70s and infact upto the closure for conversion to a triple complex were Phillips DP70/35 projectors. Mostly during this time the film format was 35mm, but yes in 1972 “Ryans Daughter” was screened in 70mm and also “Ben Hur” then in 1974 a two week re-run of “Dr Zhivago” which was the last film to be shown in 70mm, and with the last 35mm shown on that equipment was “Jaws” after a 3 month run.
The Projection team were highly professional and presentation was always of a very high standard.
The Cinema was always extremly busy during this period and the staff very well trained in seating the near 1,600 capacity audiances very quickly which usually took place during the showing of the short feature, well in time for the start of the main film.

Ken Roe
Ken Roe on April 30, 2010 at 5:15 am

An advertisement for the Olympia Picture Theatre from March 1911:
View link
A vintage photograph of the Olympia Cinema in 1935:
View link
A vintage photograph of the ABC Olympia Cinema in September 1956:
View link
A close-up in October 1972:
View link

lovefilms on April 29, 2010 at 7:00 am

I was ther when the 70 mm re release of gone with the wind was on, i remeber carrying the reels in ther metal cases to the projection area.i think one of the last 70 mm films shown at the olympia was Ryans daughter in about 1972.but ther may have been a few more later.I have some photos of the hall just prior to tripling ,which im hopeing to put on here sometime.thanks for the above reply.

geoffjc on April 29, 2010 at 2:57 am

Thanks for the comment above,clearly the lenses were changed and screen masking modified, and lower-power arcs used as there was a smaller screen area to illuminate!
The 70mm re-release of “Gone with the Wind” was shown in 1968 so the DP70’s were still functioning, so I’ll keep an eye out for further 70mm shows advertised after that.
Still doesn’t explain why the “Scope” screen was made smaller, so it was the same as the Odeon ?

lovefilms on March 6, 2010 at 9:08 am

I was a probationer at the abc olympia in late 1968, the DP 70 projectors were in use then , and as far as i know were in use up until the triple conversion in 1976.

geoffjc on February 16, 2010 at 2:03 pm

The Olympia was never the same for me after they made the screen smaller in 1966. Did they remove the 70mm projectors and replace them with something with different focal length lenses?
The most annoying habit of the ABC management was making people queue outside (in the rain), even when the cinema was empty, and so miss part of what remained of the “supporting programme”.
As a result my attendance became occasional rather than regular, and infrequent once the poor quality triple conversion was carried out, when the presentation standards described by Editha had become just a memory.

edithapearce on January 16, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Between 1955 and 1960 I worked at the nearby Dominions Arcade vaults. Every week the distributors gave two free passes, to each member of staff, which could be used at any one of the four remaining cinemas operating in Queen Street. The Olympia was at that time considered to be the best operated and most comfortable of the three halls on the north side of Queen Street and this was where I nearly always used my passes.

The Gaumont possessed terrible sound amplification as it sometimes functioned as a theatre which led to it having mobile stage mounted speakers. The Odeon had a box with poor sound insulation. Patrons sitting in the balcony could often hear noises from the box during quiet interludes in the film presentations.

The operating skills of the Olympia projectionists were highly regarded by those in the trade. The hall had a large and permanent box staff so never hired outside jobbers. One of the features I can recall was the way that the projection staff seamlessly operated the cinema so that interval music and lighting was faded up and down almost as if it were a part of the opening or closing sequences of the films being presented. Joins in trailers and ice-cream advertisements were noticed to have professionally blooped out sound tracks that never treated the audience to the bangs and buzzes experienced in more minor halls. Changeovers were slick and almost unnoticeable to those without knowledge of projecting. In my later days as a jobbing minor hall projectionist I always tried, but rarely succeeded owing to inferior equipment, to emulate the standards which I’d previously admired at the Olympia.

Even now, some fifty years on, when I think of the Olympia, I can easily recall the Percy Faith version of “A Summer Place” being carefully faded out as the distributor’s title plate replaced the silent British Board of Censor’s certificate.

abcgirl on January 16, 2010 at 6:02 pm

Thank you for this post. I’ve, out of the blue, just remebered about this cinema and didn’t think I’d find anything about it online. I’m 25 and remember it as the ABC cinema. I didn’t realise the history to it, it was my favourite cinema to go to.

geoffjc on August 26, 2007 at 10:41 am

The Olympia name appears on an advert dated 1911 reproduced in a local history book, and was used in press advertising e.g. for a “Kinemacolor” show.